Transnet ‘lost’ 25% of its locomotives since 2018

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(Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Deaan Vivier)
(Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Deaan Vivier)

In a trading updated for the year to end-March, Transnet said its revenue increased by 1.6% to R68.3 billion, while earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 22.1% to R23,8 billion.

The company said it was helped by the improvement in petroleum and container volumes, however its freight rail business struggled.

The number of locomotives in Transnet Freight Rail’s fleet has declined by 25% since 2018 – from 2 215 to 1 656 locomotives.

“The ability to access spare parts of certain locomotives has been jeopardised by the 1 064 review application and thus affecting the reliability and availability of locomotives,” Transnet said.

Transnet and the Special Investigating Unit have launched legal proceedings against the Chinese Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) over the irregular procurement of 1 064 locomotives at the height of state capture in South Africa.

An interim order handed down by the Special Tribunal – which is mandated to recover public funds syphoned through corruption – served to freeze R4.2 billion in bank accounts linked to CRRC.

Meanwhile, the Chinese company has refused to provide Transnet with specialised spares for Transnet's locomotives.

On Friday, Transnet said is progressing with negotiations with the company “that may draw protracted litigation to a close and enable the rehabilitation of locomotives and security of supply”.

Transnet said that approximately 15,7 million tonnes of freight volumes have been lost in the current financial year as a direct consequence of locomotive unavailability on the North Corridor alone.

The North Corridor moves coal from heartlands of Mpumalanga to the Richards Bay Coal Terminal and into the export markets is Transnet’s most lucrative line.

Its rail service has also been hit by cable theft and infrastructure vandalism.

“Whilst much progress has been made in curbing fuel theft from the petroleum pipeline, more than 1 000 kilometres of cable have been stolen from our rail operations. This has resulted in more than R1.6 billion being spent on security and about R400 million on replacing stolen cables, with operational disruptions causing lost revenue estimated at R1.9 billion in TFR alone.”

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